Muskegon firefighters angry over budget cuts, city claims they can do more with less

Posted at 9:52 PM, Jun 13, 2017

MUSKEGON, Mich. -- Firefighters and residents in Muskegon are upset over a proposed $600,000 cut to the local fire department.

On Tuesday, many of them showed up to the city commission meeting with the same question: How can they provide better services to their city with less money?

Some firefighters are afraid of losing their jobs, saying there is no way they can provide better and safer services with that big of a cut.

"We believe a rush decision in this case could cost lives," said firefighter and union member Christopher Drake.

Drake says the $600,000 cut could put community members in danger, a position shared by others who spoke at the meeting.

"[I'm] adamantly opposed to the draconian cuts that seem to be on the table," said Mike McCall, a resident and retired Norton Shores firefighter. "I am very concerned about my family's safety."

McCall says the city needs to think twice about this cut.

Firefighters afraid of losing their jobs tell FOX 17 that they are already a small department, and another cut is not in the community's best interest.  They said insult was added to injury when they saw the police department got $800,000 added to their budget.

"We may be talking about dollar cuts but we are certainly not talking about service cuts," said Mayor Stephen Gawron.

However, firefighters are asking how the two don't go hand in hand. Mayor Gawron said contracting with outside services isn't off the table, that they've done it in the past with waste companies and building inspectors.

"We save money," Gawron said. "It's efficient, more effective."

As for keeping the safety of residents a number one priority, firefighters are still trying to figure out how the numbers will work to make that happen.  Mayor Gawron wants to remind everyone of one thing.

"We will move forward.  We have to find those savings because the money doesn't exist," he said, "I'm a resident here too. I live here, and want what's best for my family, friends and neighbors."

The next meeting on the city's budget plan is June 27. The plan has to be submitted to the state by July 1.